Posted in Baseball, New York Mets

Changing times, changing teams

The New York Mets are expected to announce their purchase of the Triple-A Syracuse Chiefs baseball team as soon as tomorrow, according to a report by Syracuse.com’s Mark Weiner.

The move will help the Mets consolidate their minor league baseball operations, with three of their top five farm clubs playing in New York State as of 2019. (The Las Vegas 51s have been the Mets’ Triple-A affiliate since 2013, but due to travel that has been less than ideal.)

When I was growing up, my father frequently took us out to the Scranton, Pa. area to visit some of his friends. He usually managed to time it so that the Scranton/Wilkes Barre Red Barons were home… and sometimes it worked out that they were playing the Mets’ affiliate, the Tidewater (and later, Norfolk) Tides.

It was a magical experience to be able to sit at field level and be able to ask the players for autographs at Lackawanna County Stadium. If we went out to Shea Stadium, Yankee Stadium or Veterans Stadium, we sat in the upper deck and it felt like we were closer to the players at home watching on TV.

John-Maine-2006.jpg
John Maine pitches for the Norfolk Tides at Lackawanna County Stadium in 2006.

The last baseball road trip I took with my dad was Easter weekend 2006… we watched the Red Barons and the Tides open the International League season. I don’t remember who won the games (although I do recall one of them was played in just over two hours.)

I got autographs from a newly-acquired prospect named John Maine, who would make two starts in the National League Championship Series that fall; from Lastings Milledge, who would earn the ire of some of his teammates when he high-fived fans following his first MLB home run later that summer; from Ray Navarrete, who I’d watched win an Atlantic League Championship with the Somerset Patriots the previous year; and Jose Lima, who’d be pitching for the Camden Riversharks a couple of years later.

In 2007, the New Orleans Zephyrs became the Mets’ Triple-A team — and they play in the Pacific Coast League. Scranton Wilke-Barre became a New York Yankees’ affiliate. For a Mets fan and a Phillies fan, Lackawanna County Stadium lost its appeal.

In truth, the travel had gotten to be too much for him. We went to Atlantic League games closer to home for a few more years, until dad’s health declined too much for that to be possible.

It won’t be the same without him, but I’d like to go see a Mets’ affiliate play a Phillies’ affiliate again. In 2019, maybe I’ll get my chance.

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Posted in Baseball, New York Mets

All good things…

IMG_20170927_164310863_BURST000_COVER_TOPAs I write this, we’re less than 48 hours away from the final out of the 2017 New York Mets season… and already, manager Terry Collins has been kicked upstairs, pitching coach Dan Warthen and trainer Ray Ramirez have been relieved of their duties, and coaches Dick Scott, Ricky Bones and Tom Goodwin have been encouraged to seek other employment.

A 70-92 record and the worst team ERA since 1962 will bring changes, and they’re already starting to happen.

I said my goodbye to this year’s Mets team last week at Citi Field. My friend Vinny pointed out tickets would probably be really cheap for a midweek season finale between two teams that had been out of the running since Memorial Day, and he was right – I got a pair of seats 13 rows behind the third base dugout for about what it would have cost to go to a Brooklyn Cyclones game.

Continue reading “All good things…”

Posted in Baseball, New York Mets

Last Mets standing

I thought I was numb.

It’s been an awful year for the New York Mets – yesterday afternoon’s lost dropped their record to 55-71, including a miserable 28-39 at home. (I feel blessed that they actually won one of the handful of games I went to this season.)

There have been so many injuries that the team is actually issuing press releases to help the media keep track of who’s hurt, who might be coming back soon and who’s done for the season.

Thanks to a series of summer trades, the Mets have become the second youngest team in baseball. And many of the veterans who are left — I’m looking at you, Yoenis Cespedes — have underperformed. A lot. (Cespedes, earning the highest salary among the 2017 Mets, has a 1.6 Fangraphs WAR — just 0.2 points higher than what Noah Syndergaard accomplished in 27.1 innings.)

I still put the Mets on as background noise if I’m home, but I haven’t actively paid attention to every minute of the tv broadcasts since early June.

Yesterday, I got to see the ugly footage of Michael Conforto dislocating his shoulder during his likely final plate appearance of 2017. And surprise, surprise… the Mets can still deliver that sucker punch even when you thought it couldn’t get worse.

My heart goes out to Conforto, who was on his way to becoming the Mets’ best player and one of baseball’s stars this year with an amazing season. Hopefully the Mets’ leadership will handle his injury properly and Conforto will be able to pick up where he left off next year.

Conforto, and more recently rookies Amed Rosario and Dominic Smith, were the reasons I was still watching Mets baseball this year.

Let’s hope Rosario and Smith can both make it to October 1st.

Posted in Autographs, Baseball, New York Mets

At the White Plains National

This weekend, JP Sports and Rock Solid Promotions held their White Plains National sports card show, featuring a selection of autograph guests that included former MLB and NFL stars as well as a few pro wrestlers and actors. There was really someone for just about everyone.

I was talking to my friend Bart on Friday and he mentioned that he was looking forward to the autograph show. Now I hardly ever get to see Bart or do things with him these days, so when he asked if I wanted to go with him, i was quick to agree since it lined up with a rare Saturday day off.

Continue reading “At the White Plains National”

Posted in Baseball, Trenton Thunder

Looking ahead to an All-Star Summer

I just remembered to flip my calendar to August today – can you believe how fast the year is flying by?

The Trenton Thunder are already looking ahead to 2018, when they will host the Eastern League All-Star Game. The event is split into two days of festivities: a home run derby on Tuesday, July 10th and the All-Star Game itself on Wednesday, July 11th.

The Binghamton Rumble Ponies (New York Mets) will make two trips to Trenton in 2018, June 8-10 and June 19-21, which are the only other dates I’m going to bother making note of now… you can get more information via the Thunder website.

The Atlantic League All-Star Game will be in the tri-state area next summer again as well, hosted by the Long Island Ducks. No date has yet been announced.

Assuming the dates don’t conflict (and they probably will), I’d love to go to both. Here’s hoping I can at least get to see one.